Healthy habits around exercise and diet form when we are young and are well established by the time we enter our teenage years. Healthy behaviours formed at a young age are more likely to continue into adulthood, setting the scene for a healthier life.
The essential elements required for strong growth, healthy development and lifelong wellbeing in children are quality nutrition and regular exercise; however, children and adults in Australia and across the western world are making increasingly poorer health choices, especially around the levels of exercise they participate in.
Whilst sport and exercise programs like CrossFit for kids can help form new, lasting and beneficial habits, it’s important to review a little bit of the research that paints a picture of our current state of health and the lifelong benefits of healthy exercise habits.
A growing state of inactivity
The Australian Institute of Health and Welfare and Australian Bureau of Statistics conducted extensive research that found that too many Australians are not active enough for reasons, including poor health, injury and lack of time. Coupled with additional barriers in the form of school and gym closures and lockdowns, and it becomes easy to see how Australians have indeed changed their exercise habits; and not necessarily for the better:
- more than half (55%) of adults do not meet the physical activity guidelines
- Two in three (70%) children aged 2 to 17 do not meet the guidelines
- only 3 in 10 pregnant women meet the guidelines
- only 2% of teenagers aged 13 to 17 meet the guidelines
- almost half (44%) of working-age adults spend much of their work day sitting
- physical inactivity is responsible for more than 6% of the cancer burden in Australia
- physical inactivity is linked to various diseases including diabetes and heart disease
For children and young people, getting the right mix of physical activity, rest and sleep each day is vital to realising their social, emotional, intellectual and health potential.
The physical and mental benefits
There is a wealth of research available that paints a clear picture as to why physical activity is crucial for children as they grow up. Being active improves health and wellbeing at any age and the most up to date scientific advice suggests that children who exercise regularly benefit from:
- reduced risk of obesity
- increased cardiovascular fitness
- healthy growth of bones, muscles, ligaments and tendons
- improved coordination, balance and ability to physically relax
- improved sleep, brain development and social skills
- mental health benefits, such as greater confidence
- improved personal skills, including cooperation, teamwork and leadership
So, how do we turn this around?
Good habits are much harder to establish than bad ones which means change may not be easy; however, it is totally achievable and definitely worth doing. To achieve change, there are three things we need to understand:
- The difference in lived experience
- What is recommended
- How adults can actively support healthier habits
The difference in lived experience
The childhood experience of today’s children is significantly different to the childhood experienced by their parents. Mobile phones, internet, social media and parenting styles that favour risk avoidance means more children are less likely to challenge their bodies in the ways their parents did through things like climbing trees, rolling down a steep hill, skateboarding or riding BMX.
What is recommended
The Australian Government recommends that ‘Children and young people should participate in at least 60 minutes of moderate to vigorous-intensity physical activity every day, and, spend no more than two hours a day using electronic media for entertainment (such as computer games, internet, TV), particularly during daylight hours.’
How adults can actively support healthier habits
Parents, carers, caring adult friends and extended family can help the children in their lives to be physically active by leading by example and prioritising exercise in a number of ways, including:
- be physically active yourself
- make sure that family outings offer opportunities for physical activity
- encourage your child to walk or ride their bicycle for short trips rather than drive them
- support your child’s efforts in sport. Make sure you’re there cheering them on
- set time limits on sedentary activities like computer games and television
- speak with your child’s school on how to encourage greater participation in sports
For some adults, these suggestions may be things they are already doing. If that is you, then very well done. But if this is not you, don’t slump your shoulders and resign. Change happens every moment we choose to do something worthwhile over something easy.
This is where CrossFit Kids comes into its own
CrossFit kids is a highly engaging, effective and habit-forming training program combining key elements of gymnastics, weight lifting, cardio-vascular and body-weight training. It is incredibly flexible and adaptable to the needs and age of all participants; from children and teenagers to adults young and old. The benefits of dedicated CrossFit for teens and kids programs include:
- a program that meets the physical and developmental needs of kids and teenagers
- a constantly varied and exciting programming that improves all areas of fitness
- a fun and sociable environment that is competitive without being aggressive
- a sense of discipline, confidence and teamwork
- children can start as young as 7-years-of-age
- intimate class sizes that allow for greater relationship development
Finding a CrossFit kids near me
So jump on your bikes and ride on over to your nearest CrossFit box (if it isn’t too far) and check it out. If the moment grabs you, why not book yourselves into a class and try it out. Nothing motivates a youngster more than seeing their parents or adult friend try something new. Chat with a coach afterwards and see if the spark of interest is there. If so, start the adventure and see where it takes you.
Changing habits isn’t easy, and yes, it takes time; but what could be more important than supporting your child to develop the strength and fitness they need to tackle their adolescence and adulthood with confidence?